A recent series of events had New Jersey officials wondering if there was a hate crime conspiracy taking place. Five African-American churches in Morris County were vandalized over the past weekend, according to police. There would of course appear to be no coincidence in the serial commission of such property crimes, all coming closely in time and place.
Police were able to quickly arrest a suspect who allegedly acted alone in committing the offenses. They arrested a 45-year-old black man of Morristown as the perpetrator who broke signs and windows at the five churches. The attacks came at night on Friday and Saturday, according to police.
Surveillance cam footage taken by the churches revealed the suspect's identity. Police found him at his home which is reportedly near some of the churches. It is also reported that the man attended one of the churches as a child. Police say that he admitted to acting alone.
All of these factors allayed the worries of investigators that there was a bias crime being committed, and they reported that it was no longer being investigated as such. The man was allegedly seen on one of the surveillance tapes throwing a rock into a church window. Parishioners and pastors were upset but taking the incidents in stride, even offering the chance for repentance to the offender.
Police arrested the man on four counts of criminal mischief pursuant to New Jersey law. Assuming that events are as reported, the tapes would likely be sufficient evidence for conviction of the property crimes even without his confession. The accused will likely negotiate a plea deal for resolution of the matter. Criminal defense counsel will probe the reasons for his actions, and will try to construct a presentation that accentuates mitigating circumstances, such as the man's mental and emotional condition that may have ignited the actions.
Source: ibtimes.com, "New Jersey Church Vandal Arrested After Being Caught On Security Camera", Shreesha Ghosh, Nov. 27, 2017